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Flooding, Damaging Winds Likely Again

Here’s a look at your forecast for Santa Cruz, Monterey, San Benito, and southern Santa Clara Counties!

The next storm is upon us even as we continue to monitor flooding of the Pajaro and Salinas Rivers. Waters from the Pajaro continue to spill out of the river channel into surrounding areas even though the river itself is receding. The Salinas River has crested but flooding along its course persists. Heavy rain and damaging winds return overnight with the strongest period between 6AM and 3PM Tuesday for most areas. Moderate flooding is likely including fields, roads, streams, and other low areas. Overly saturated soils will mean a high risk of mudslides and fallen trees, a threat that will be compounded by strong winds. Rain and wind will taper off Tuesday evening with a few showers lasting in to Wednesday. Dry weather is then expected Wednesday/Thursday, but river flooding appears likely on the Pajaro and upper Salinas Rivers with flooding on the lower Salinas by Friday. Similar crests to those in recent days are expected. A weak weather system will arrive this weekend with perhaps more behind it.


… for a levee failure on the Pajaro River near river mile 10 in effect until 5:15 PM Tuesday.

*Flooding caused by a levee failure continues.

*Flooding of rivers, creeks, streams, and other low-lying and flood-prone locations is imminent or occurring. This includes the city of Pajaro.

- At 11:07AM Monday, flooding continues due to a levee failure on the Pajaro River near river mile 10.

- Additional rainfall amounts of 1 to 3 inches are possible in the warned area tonight into Tuesday.

- Some locations that will experience flooding include... Pajaro.

Keep children away from storm drains, culverts, creeks and streams. Water levels can rise rapidly and sweep children away.
Turn around, don't drown when encountering flooded roads. Most flood deaths occur in vehicles.


…for Pajaro River at Chittenden in effect now until further notice.

*In coordination with the Pajaro Regional Flood Management Agency as well as Monterey and Santa Cruz Counties flooding is expected below the official flood stage along the Monterey County portion of the Pajaro River due to observed impacts from the January flood event.

- - At 8:45 PM PDT Monday, March 13 the stage was 20.9 feet.

  - Forecast...The river is expected to rise above monitor stage Tuesday evening and reach flood stage Wednesday morning and continue rising to 27.9 feet by Wednesday afternoon.

  - Flood stage is 32.0 feet
Monitor stage is 25.0 feet.

  - Flood History...This crest compares to a previous crest of 29.5 feet on 01/03/1997 and 27.7 feet on 01/11/2023.

*At 27.5 feet, Water may begin seeping under muscle wall along the Monterey County portion of the levees.
  ...At 28 feet, Levee along the Monterey County portion of the Pajaro may overtop.
  ...At 29.5 feet, Parts of State Highway 129 between US Highway 101 and Watsonville will flood. The entire Pajaro River will have moderate bank erosion and sediment deposition.

Motorists should not attempt to drive around barricades or drive cars through flooded areas.

Turn around, don`t drown when encountering flooded roads. Most flood deaths occur in vehicles.

... for the Salinas River from the San Luis Obispo County line to Soledad until further notice.

Moderate flooding is forecasted.

Motorists should not attempt to drive around barricades or drive cars through flooded areas. Turn around, don`t drown when encountering flooded roads. Most flood deaths occur in vehicles. Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize the dangers of flooding.

* IMPACTS...At 14 ft, Minor lowland flooding is expected.

- At 16 ft, Minor flooding of agricultural land is expected. The lower portions of the San Ardo oil fields is close to flooding.

...At 18 ft, Minor flooding begins at the San Ardo oil fields.Significant flooding occurs along the lowest portions of towns from Bradley to Soledad. Erosion will cause minor damage to agricultural land. Some secondary roads from Bradley to Soledad will flood.

- At 8:30 PM PDT Monday, March 13 the stage was 9.5 feet.

  - Forecast...Impacts will persist after the river has dropped below the official monitor and flood stage. The river is forecast to rise into Minor Flood stage once again late Tuesday evening.

  - Flood stage is 14.0 feet.

  - Flood History...This crest compares to a previous crest of 18.7 feet on 02/10/1978.

… for the lower Salinas River from Soledad to Monterey Bay in effect from Sunday afternoon until further notice.

*Minor flooding is forecast. The Salinas River is forecast to reach minor flood stage by this afternoon and will continue rising, approaching moderate flood stage Monday evening.

*IMPACTS…At 23.0 feet, A few farm residences will begin to flood near the Salinas River along the reach of the gage. River Road will begin to flood near Spreckels.

- At 24.0 feet, Significant flooding of the lowest portions of agricultural land begins within the reach of the gage. River Road and Spreckels Boulevard begin to flood.

- At 26.0 feet, Moderate flooding of agricultural land and lower portions of Soledad, Gonzales, Chualar, Spence and Spreckels. Primary and secondary roads begin to flood within the reach.
Highway 68 begins to flood. Levees in danger of breaching along the reach. At least 20,000 acres of farm land inundated in the Salinas Valley.

- At 27.0 feet, Moderate flooding continues along the reach. Approaches to river bridges within the reach begin to erode. Lower portions of Castroville begin to flood. Highway 156 near Castroville begins to flood. Flooding to Foster Road, 1 mile of Salinas.

-At 28.0 feet, Major flooding of agricultural land within the reach of the gages. Major flooding begins along lower portions of Soledad, Gonzales, Chualar, Spence, Spreckels and Castroville. Water/sewage treatment plants in danger of being flooded. Many secondary and some primary roads inundated making travel difficult in the Salinas Valley. Highway 156 and 68 inundated and closed. Major damage to wide expanses of agricultural land in the Salinas Valley with 40,000 acres inundated.

- At 9:00 PM PDT Monday the stage was 25.5 feet.

  - Recent Activity...The maximum river stage in the 24 hours ending at 9:00 PM PDT Monday was 26.4 feet.

  - Forecast...The river is expected to remain in Minor flood  stage for the next 24 to 36 hours before beginning to rise again in response to an atmospheric river forecast to impact the region Tuesday. The river is forecast to reach Moderate flood stage once again Friday.

  - Flood stage is 23.0 feet.

  - Flood History...This crest compares to a previous crest of

    26.5 feet on 02/26/1969.

… for the near coastal waters of Santa Cruz & Monterey Counties including Monterey Bay until 3PM Tuesday

Southeast winds 20 to 35 kt with gusts up to 50 kt and seas 6 to 13 ft expected.

* WHERE...Coastal Waters from Point Pinos to Point Piedras Blancas California out to 10 nm.

* WHEN...From 9 PM Monday to 3 PM PDT Tuesday.

* IMPACTS...Strong winds will cause hazardous seas which could capsize or damage vessels and reduce visibility.

Mariners should alter plans to avoid these hazardous conditions. Remain in port, seek safe harbor, alter course, and/or secure the vessel for severe conditions.

… for the entire KION Coverage area in Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Benito, and Santa Clara Counties in effect until 11PM Tuesday

*Southerly winds 20 to 40 mph with gusts 50 mph in the valleys. Gusts 55 to 70 mph immediate coastline and hills above 1000 feet.

*Damaging winds will blow down trees and power lines. Widespread power outages are expected. Travel will be difficult, especially for high profile vehicles.

*Southerly winds will quickly increase during the overnight hours of Monday into early Tuesday morning as the first slug of energy arrives with the atmospheric river. Winds may ease slightly for a time on Tuesday then turn southwest as strong surface low pressure passes over the region.
Expect downed trees and limbs to lead to renewed power outages across the region.

People should avoid being outside in forested areas and around trees and branches. If possible, remain in the lower levels of your home during the windstorm, and avoid windows. Use caution if you must drive.

…for the entire KION viewing area including Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Benito, and southern Santa Clara counties.

*In effect through late Tuesday night.

*Flooding caused by excessive rainfall is likely.

*Creeks and streams may rise out of their banks. Extensive street flooding and flooding of creeks and rivers is likely.

- Rivers and streams are still running high and or out of their banks at this time. Periods of light rain will continue this weekend through Monday. By Monday night into Tuesday another strong atmospheric river will arrive bringing another round of heavy rain to the region. 3 to 7 inches of rain is
forecast for the coastal hills with 1 to 3 inches in the valleys.

You should monitor later forecasts and be alert for possible Flood Warnings. Those living in areas prone to flooding should be prepared to take action should flooding develop.

Overnight: Overcast with scattered showers initially, then widespread light to moderate rain developing around midnight. Rain will become moderate to heavy with strong southerly winds by dawn. Lows in the 50s for most areas—a few 40s in southern valleys.

Tuesday: Widespread flooding rains with gusty, damaging southerly winds at times. Rain and wind begin to ease by mid-afternoon, slowly tapering off into the late evening. Highs in the 50s-60s.

Wednesday:Partly cloudy with isolated showers early, then becoming mostly clear late. Highs in the 50s to 60s. Gusty northwest winds at times, tapering off late.

Extended: Expect dry conditions Thursday/Friday with a weak system potentially bringing light rain Saturday and another following Sunday into Monday.

This week's normal temperatures:

LOW: 45ºF
HIGH: 64ºF

LOW: 42ºF
HIGH: 68ºF

-The outlook from the Climate Prediction Center for March 21st – 27th calls for the likelihood of BELOW normal temperatures and ABOVE normal precipitation.

- El Niño/La Niña STATUS: Neutral

- Forecast: Neutral through the summer with eventual development of El Niño
-Area drought status: 
Abnormally dry for the Santa Cruz Mountains, the lower valleys of San Benito County, and southern Santa Clara County

Article Topic Follows: Weather Authority
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Dann Cianca

Dann Cianca is the chief meteorologist at KION News Channel 5/46.


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